Just because Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month is almost over doesn't mean you can't enjoy fresh fruits and veggies every day. Every season features its own special fruits and vegetables, but summer offers an exceptional range of choices. Summer fruit is a wonderful snack, whether you freeze it into popsicles, stir it into nonfat yogurt, or just take a bite. Be sure to keep a bowl of washed, chilled fruit in the refrigerator for those warm weather snack attacks.
You'll enjoy fresh fruit the most if you eat it at the peak of ripeness. One of the best things to do with ripe fruit is to prepare a sauce called coulis. A coulis is nothing more than a fruit or vegetable puree that has been sweetened or seasoned. A coulis is beautiful in color, wonderful in flavor, and contains little to no fat or sodium. Here are some tips for making your own coulis:
- Puree berries with cantaloupe or peaches.
- Use Splenda® brand sweetener, honey,or maple syrup if you want to add some extra sweetness.
- Puree a small amount of banana with berries for an extra-creamy treat.
- Use coulis as a sauce for fresh fruit salads, sorbets, or fruit ice, as a dipping sauce for grapes or other berries, or as the start of a great fruit smoothie.
- Turn coulis into sorbet by incorporating it into your favorite sorbet recipe. Serve your sorbet with even more fresh fruit!
- Freeze your coulis in ice cube trays and add a few cubes to your next glass of lemonade, iced tea, or water.
- You can also stir coulis into orange juice for a fun, new breakfast beverage.
Saving Summer Fruit
You may want to dry some summer fruit to use later in the year. Drying fruit can be done easily with an oven or a fruit dehydrator. The fruit you select for drying should be ripe or very ripe, so that you can get an especially sweet result. To dry fruit in the oven, you’ll need a gas oven with a pilot, or an electric oven that you can set to 175 degrees. Wash the fruit and pat it dry, then slice if as thin as possible. Place the sliced fruit in tight rows on baking sheets, making sure that the pieces do not touch. Allow to dry in the oven until all the moisture has evaporated. Store in airtight, covered containers.
Not sure which fruits to dry? Peaches, apricots and plums hold their color and shape nicely. Grapes and berries don’t look very pretty when they are dry, but they still taste great.
Any type of ripe fruit makes great juice. Use a blender or a juicer and create your own combinations, like strawberry-banana, honeydew-peach or apricot-plum juice. Here are some of our best juicing tips...
- Wash fruit well, remove pits, chop roughly and place in blender. Whirl until mixture is smooth, then strain out any seeds before serving.
- Fresh juice will last about two days in the refrigerator or about one month in the freezer.
- Use fresh juice as an ingredient in salad dressings.
- Replace up to 25% of the liquid in a baked goods recipe with fresh juice. This will add both nutrients and flavor.
- Make a smoothie with 1/2 cup light nonfat yogurt, 1/2 cup of frozen fruit, and 1 cup of fruit juice.
- Make ice cubes and popsicles with your fresh fruit juice.
- Flavor iced teas with fresh fruit juice.
Since fruit juices get rid of most of the healthful fiber that fruits contain, these juices should be consumed in moderation. When in doubt, choose whole fruit.
By Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD
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Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.